CLDR Usage of Gregorian Calendar Era Terms: BC and AD -- Can we please have "CE" and "BCE" ?

From: Ed Trager (
Date: Wed Dec 19 2007 - 11:01:09 CST

  • Next message: Ed Trager: "Re: CLDR Usage of Gregorian Calendar Era Terms: BC and AD -- Can we please have "CE" and "BCE" ?"

    Hi, everyone,

    For the Gregorian calendar in CLDR, two --and as far as I am aware
    only two-- era terms are defined:

         BC - "Before Christ"
         AD - Anno Domini (="year of the lord")

    Is it really the case that these are the only two era terms available in CLDR?

    While these two era terms quite naturally arose from the fact that the
    Gregorian calendar was promulgated by the Christian church, many
    --myself included-- will now argue that these two terms should be
    supplanted by the completely secular terms, "CE - Common Era" and "BCE
    - Before Common Era".

    While there are many grounds on which one can argue in favor of "CE"
    and "BCE" over the traditional "AD" and "BC", perhaps the simplest and
    least divisive is the simple fact that the two terms "BC" and "AD" are
    not accurate, since most religious historians now believe that Jesus
    of Nazareth was born sometime between 7 and 4 BCE.

    Given the now world-wide use of the Gregorian Calendar as a secular
    standard for measuring dates in every realm of endeavor beyond the
    Church, it seems uncharacteristically anachronistic that the CLDR
    defines only these two era terms:

       => At the very least, these two terms need to be supplanted by the
    modern, secular terms, "CE - Common Era" and "BCE - Before Common Era"
            This should be done immediately.

       => In the very best case, the anachronistic terms "BC" and "AD"
    could be removed from CLDR altogether.

    However, I --and I am sure many of you also-- realize that it may be
    too much to ask for the outright removal of the anachronistic terms
    "BC" and "AD". So rather than argue about removal of "BC" and "AD",
    can we at least all agree that "CE" and "BCE" need to be added to CLDR
    as soon as possible?

    Note that in some locales, use of "Common Era" and "Before Common Era"
    is already well established. For example, the Chinese already use the
    term "公元" which means "common era" and "公元前" which means "before
    common era". So, for the "zh" Chinese locales, we may conclude that
    the "values" are already correct, but the "keys" are wrong. However,
    in many other locales, translations of --or customary equivalents
    for-- "BC" and "AD" naturally enough continue to reference the birth
    of Jesus of Nazareth.

    The addition of "CE" and "BCE" to CLDR will greatly facilitate the
    efforts of localization specialists who wish to produce localized
    software and electronic services for the widest possible audiences
    without having to worry about offending anyone whose religious beliefs
    and preferences may differ from those which have been traditionally
    dominant in the Western world.

    Best - Ed

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